An utterly original celebration of that which binds humanity across battle lines and history.
On the island of Sicily amid the Peloponnesian War, the Syracusans have figured out what to do with the surviving Athenians who had the gall to invade their city: they’ve herded the sorry prisoners of war into a rock quarry and left them to rot. Looking for a way to pass the time, Lampo and Gelon, two unemployed potters with a soft spot for poetry and drink, head down into the quarry to feed the Athenians if, and only if, they can manage a few choice lines from their great playwright Euripides. Before long, the two mates hatch a plan to direct a full-blown production of Medea. After all, you can hate the people but love their art. But as opening night approaches, what started as a lark quickly sets in motion a series of extraordinary events, and our wayward heroes begin to realize that staging a play can be as dangerous as fighting a war, with all sorts of risks to life, limb, and friendship.
Told in a contemporary Irish voice and as riotously funny as it is deeply moving, Glorious Exploits is an unforgettable ode to the power of art in a time of war, brotherhood in a time of enmity, and human will throughout the ages.
“Irish-born Lennon’s distinctly modern voice adds levity and wit to this highly recommended narrative about the tragic aftermath of war and the tragic beauty of the human condition.”
―Library Journal (starred review)
“Lennon brings ancient Sicily to life with humor and pathos in his stunning debut. . . . [this] vital tale captivates.”
―Publishers Weekly (boxed, starred review)
“An entertaining and impressive debut...Exploring themes of friendship, loyalty, and the toll of war, Lennon evokes a time when it was common to relish and revere the art of Homer’s poetry and Euripides’ drama. Those with that appetite today are fortunate to have Madeline Miller, Emily Wilson, Pat Barker, and recently James Hynes’ Sparrow. And Lennon.”
―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Laugh-out-loud funny . . . this superb novel builds to a page-turning crescendo that evokes the great tragedy the men stage.”
“Bold and totally unexpected, I loved this book. A brilliant novel about friendship, the healing power of art, and why we must fight for our dreams. I was hooked from the first page.”
—Douglas Stuart, Booker Prize-winning author of Shuggie Bain
"I loved this book. Fierce, funny, fast-paced. Glorious Exploits brings the ancient world roaring to life in a brilliantly non-stuffy way—as if the figures on a Greek vase turned round, offered you wine, and started chatting. Thoroughly enjoyable, occasionally brutal, and shot through with insight, pathos and hope. Reminiscent of Kevin Barry and George Saunders, but wholly original—an unforgettable debut."
—Joanna Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Whalebone Theatre
“Glorious Exploits is as madly ambitious as a production of Euripides in a prison quarry, and succeeds thanks to Ferdia Lennon's ability to conjure up the past as vividly as Mary Renault, with all the blunt humanity of Roddy Doyle. Cathartic like all great tragedy, but shockingly funny too, this outstandingly original debut is just glorious.”
—Emma Donoghue, bestselling author of The Wonder
“Glorious Exploits stinks of misery, despair, love, war, poetry, reckless ambition, terrible failure, and glorious triumph. It’s a novel thick with the stuff of the Classics, in other words. A delicious treat of a read. I loved it.”
—Jon McGregor, author of Reservoir 13
“In At Swims-Two-Birds, Flann O'Brien gave us cowboys riding through Dublin. Now, Ferdia Lennon gives us modern-day Dubliners living among the ancient Greeks. This is a very special, very clever, very entertaining novel.”
—Roddy Doyle, Booker Prize-winning author of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha
“Glorious Exploits is exuberant, funny, lyrical and profoundly moving. It is, quite simply, a rare beauty.”
—Sarah Winman, author of Still Life
“Sublime. Pitch-perfect dialogue, a fast-moving story that is both dark and lyrically beautiful, tragic and funny in equal measure. Glorious Exploits is an astonishingly original and gripping story of brotherhood, war and art. Ferdia Lennon is a fierce new talent.”
—Rebecca Stott, author of Dark Earth